Divorcing with kids—what to say to them

When getting divorced, Utah parents need to handle conversations about divorce with their kids carefully.

Among the many concerns that Utah parents can have when facing an upcoming divorce is their children. Worries about how kids will feel about the divorce, how they will react and how to maintain strong relationships going forward are all common and understandable. How conversations from the first, to those all through the process are handled, can make a big difference in how well kids go through a parental divorce.

The goal

The vision for down the road should be that kids can still have very positive relationships with moms and dads. The Huffington Post suggests that one way to achieve this is to avoid placing limits on when children can have contact with each parent. For example, when the children are at the father's house they should feel free to call or text the mother if they wish. The same holds true the other way around.

How to get there

During a divorce, kids are likely to have questions and their ability to ask them and understand the answers will vary with their age and maturity. Today's Parent explains some of the emotional development of children at different stages and what conversations should be focused on.

Younger children will be most interested in what they directly experience. If they need to move, who will pick them up from daycare or school and whether or not they can keep their favorite stuffed animal can all be topics of questions from these kids. Parents should keep answers short and factual and avoid conversations about which parent has custody. Concepts like child custody and other divorce legalities are not appropriate for kids.

As kids move through the school-age years they can tend to want to blame someone or something for their parents' divorce. Moms and dads should be aware of this and help avoid this, especially when children take the blame themselves.

Tweens and teenagers may be more resistant to conversations about the divorce, but that does not mean they do not need their parents. At this point, parents should remain engaged and present despite what appears to be kids' efforts to push them away. This can give these kids the security they are actually seeking.

Starting off

While having conversations with kids appropriate to their age level, when first telling them about the divorce, a single meeting with all siblings is best according to Psychology Today. This prevents any discord between siblings based upon who was told this important information first.

Issues like these represent just some of the many nuances that Salt Lake City parents can experience during a divorce. Working with an experienced family law attorney is important as it can ensure that all legal aspects are properly handled. This will allow parents the best ability to focus on the emotional need of their children.